Randal Picker on the Law and Economics of Internet Search

By TAP Staff Blogger

Posted on July 29, 2010


Last month, Randal Picker, Professor of Commercial Law at the University of Chicago Law School, participated in the Searle Center’s Research Symposium on the Economics and Law of Internet Search at Northwestern University. He spent a few minutes with TAP to discuss his thoughts on the law and economics of internet search. He talked about why the average person should care about internet search; the relationship between online search advertising and individual privacy; and the economic implications of the search market structure.

The full interview can be viewed below.

Professor Picker’s primary areas of interest are the laws relating to intellectual property, competition policy and regulated industries, and applications of game theory and agent-based computer simulations to the law. One of his articles, Competition and Privacy in Web 2.0 and the Cloud, looks at how privacy affects competition. Professor Picker shows that if only one firm has access to information, it has an advantage over its rivals. The article goes on to say that as we continue to erect legal barriers to protect privacy, we should think about how those barriers affect competition. In another of Professor Picker’s articles, he looks at how Google’s deal with book publishers affects consumers. Google Book Search Settlement: A New Orphan-Works Monopoly? looks at the settlement agreement between copyright owners, authors and publisher groups and Google over Google’s efforts to provide wide access to digital copies of the world’s books. The issues examined in this article are price fixing, allowing for competition in distributing orphan works, and the potential that the settlement could create antitrust immunity.